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Blue State/Red District

The GOP’s Uneasy California Strongholds, Part 3

With Election Day 25 days away, we conclude our profiles of some key California congressional races.




Today we conclude a series of updated summaries from Capital & Main’s “Blue State/Red District” reports, with two Republican-held congressional districts that went for Donald Trump in 2016. As support for GOP incumbents seemed to crumble across California in 2018, Congressmen Tom McClintock and Devin Nunes suddenly looked vulnerable to their Democratic opponents.

Congressional District 04

Tom McClintock

Jessica Morse










Read Kelly Candaele’s What Do the Suburbs Want?

District Terrain: Sacramento Suburbs, Gold Country.

Facts: This is Trump Country.

Incumbent: Tom McClintock.

Challenger:  Jessica Morse.

Large Financial Backers: Koch Industries, AT&T, Gap Inc. (McClintock). Labor PACs, Democratic Party PACs, individual donors (Morse).

Issues: The economy, immigration, wildfire spending.

Takeaways: Gold Country counties are recipients of an urban exodus fueled by affordable housing, a desire for good schools and the expansion of high-tech jobs into suburbia.

Polling: McClintock is so universally presumed to be winning that no polls have been undertaken in this district, but traditional prognosticators (Cook Political Report, Sabato’s Crystal Ball) say this will be a likely win for the incumbent.

Key Endorsements: National Rifle Association, Americans for Legal Immigration, California Pro-Life Council (McClintock). Sacramento Bee, Emily’s List, Giffords (Morse).

Challenger’s Chances: McClintock was a late add to the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee’s original list of seven flippable GOP congressional districts in California that had gone for Hillary Clinton. Nearly a year after his addition, the DCCC’s targeting of CA 04 seems like wishful thinking – McClintock is predicted to win handily.

From Candaele’s story: “The key geographic areas where the majority of voters live, and where elections are won or lost, are found along the I-80 and I-50 corridors — places whose dairy farms and orchards not too long ago reached to the outskirts of Sacramento. The cows have been replaced by ‘Tuscan’-style housing estates with names like Serrano Village.”

Congressional District 22


Devin Nunes

Andrew Janz









Read Donnell Alexander’s Restless Valley: Can Devin Nunes Hold His Seat in November?

District Terrain: Central Valley, covering portions of Fresno County and all of Tulare County.

Facts: The predominantly rural area has long been a Republican stronghold, and Donald Trump won the 22nd district in 2016 by a margin of 9.3 points.

Incumbent: Devin Nunes.

Challenger:  Andrew Janz.

Large Financial Backers: General Atomics, Blackstone Group, Harris Farms (Nunes). Labor PACs, Democratic Pacs, End Citizens United (Janz).

Issues: Water policies, the economy, health care.

Takeaways: Nunes has been in office since 2002, and has grown used to landslide victories. But his votes to cut Medicaid and his close association with Trump have cost him supporters – including his hometown newspaper, which for the first time endorsed a Nunes opponent.

Polling: Recent polls indicate Nunes still has a healthy lead over Janz.

Key Endorsements: California Pro-Life Council, National Rifle Association, Campaign for Working Families (Nunes). The Fresno Bee, National Education Association, Equality California (Janz).

Challenger’s Chances: Weak

From Alexander’s story: “The eight-term congressman could not be less visible to locals if he wore a magic cloak. Some visiting constituents have had to interact with Nunes’ people through an outdoor intercom.”

Copyright Capital & Main

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